It is the season of films that dissect the lives of actresses, one might think, after The Dirty Picture and the latest release Oru Nadigaiyin Vaakkumoolam. But, be assured, this one is different from The Dirty Picture. For all the denials by the makers, everyone knew that The Dirty Picture was at least loosely based on the life of Silk Smitha. But, in Oru Nadigaiyin Vaakkumoolam you cannot find any similarities, even remotely, with any actress, past or present.
Oru Nadigaiyin Vaakkumoolam tells the story of an ordinary girl from a village who reaches dizzying heights in Tamil cinema; a typical rags to riches story. But, the story does not end with the girl going from rags to riches; what happens after she reaches the peak of fame? And, before that, it is neither destiny nor serendipity that opens the door to fame for this ordinary village girl. It is some very tough decisions, some sacrifices and compromises that would make a lot of people cringe. But, the promise of fame and a financially secure future drive those tough decisions and compromises. On the whole, Oru Nadigaiyin Vaakkumoolam paints a rather grim picture of an actress’ life in the film industry that showcases the baptism by fire or even tougher tests, the whirlwind rise to fame and riches, the unending scrutiny and pressure, the breakdown of personal life, the constantly prying eyes and hands and the general loss of one’s own life as even the loved ones treat her as money minting machine.
The film for most parts is the depiction of a struggle, first against circumstances and financial troubles, then against unscrupulous elements that try to abuse a young woman who wants to enter cinema, then against the trappings of fame and money and finally against one’s own people. In between all this, there is only a small period of peace and happiness; a honeymoon period with fame and money which soon fades. What this means is that the film is almost always in a brooding and tense mood. You have to keep watching one unpleasant episode after another of the protagonist and one must admit that it does not make for particularly cheerful viewing. However, in a peculiar way, it can also prove to be interesting because it depicts some of those things we have read about only in gossip columns. The movie wonders aloud about whether such things are true or not; the interpretation is left to you. Whether you take this as a work of fiction or a direct statement about the film industry is entirely your call.
This is one of the rare films where the focus is entirely on the actresses; there is no hero you can talk of. Sonia Agarwal plays the girl who rises to fame and Urmila Unni plays her mother. Both of them have come up with convincing performances. One scene in particular, where they begin to emotionally crack when they realize that they will have to make some compromises for a career in cinema, stands out. That apart, Urmila Unni scores on quite a few occasions. Sonia Agarwal too puts in a very good effort, but there are places where she doesn’t seem to fit the character of a top south Indian heroine to perfection. Though her performance in this movie might find her a few more roles, it is difficult to see her returning as a heroine to Tamil cinema. There are a host of others who make small appearances; this being a movie about movies itself. That includes many directors like Raj Kapoor, Vikraman, A.Venkatesh etc. There are also a few instances in the movie where subtle hints are thrown about some people in the industry; the really observant and cinema insiders will be able to pick those hints with ease.
Director Raj Krishna has tried to create a hard hitting statement about the tough life of actresses in the film industry. Of course, this cannot be done without resorting to some unpleasant and awkward situations on screen, accompanied with some sharp and explicit dialogue. But, even with all these, the film cannot be called vulgar or anything close to that. The only problem is a negativity of emotion and foreboding of something unpleasant that the movie has throughout. It’s almost as if you are waiting for the next bad thing to happen to the protagonist. He does try to offset this with a bit of humour courtesy Kanja Karuppu and a few others, but that does not suffice. Technically, the movie is of acceptable standards and the music is just about par; nothing stands out to be noticed.
Oru Nadigaiyin Vaakkumoolam is the portrayal of an actress’ life; one where she makes millions of fans but loses out on her own personal space.
Verdict: A pensive account of a heroine’s life!